Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Chickpea, Tomato, Roasted Pepper and Majdouli Salad

Majdouli cheese is a Lebanese string cheese with nigella seeds in it, it's also called Tortillon. I've found it in most middle eastern delis, superstore and no frills. It's salty and delicious and whenever I make a salad with it for potlucks, everyone loves the cheese and asks where to buy it! If you can't find it you could substitute feta or goat cheese.

Chickpea, Tomato, Roasted Pepper and Majdouli Salad
1 yellow pepper
2 cups of fresh tomatoes chopped into 1" pieces or halved cherry tomatoes
1 19oz can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup Majdouli cheese, separated into strands 
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 green onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
splash of hot sauce
freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 425°
Quarter and core the pepper and put skin side down on a sheet tray and roast for 18-20 minutes, turning half way. Take pepper out of oven, peel off skin and roughly chop.
In a large bowl, mix pepper, tomatoes, chickpeas, cheese, parsley, green onions, olive oil, vinegar, hot sauce and pepper. Mix well, taste and season with salt if needed. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Chili Roasted Mushrooms

Roasting mushrooms brings out a delicious sweet earthiness. Matt has what we joke is an addiction to mushroom. If we're out for dinner he always orders something with mushrooms. If I ask what he wants for dinner he answers "mushrooms".

These mushrooms are great on their own, on a toasted baguette with goat cheese, as a side to steak, mixed into a salad, on a cheese melt, in pasta, on pizza . . . 

Chili Roasted Mushrooms
7 cups mushrooms, roughly chopped (I used crimini and portobello)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
3 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed from stems (or 1/2 tsp dried thyme)
pinch of dried italian chilies
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425°.
On a large cookie sheet, toss mushrooms with garlic, olive oil, thyme and chilies. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 18-20 minutes, turning the mushrooms after 8-10 minutes. Drizzle with a little olive oil before serving.

Monday, August 29, 2011

long day.

I had a really fun moment with Hannah today in the car. I had a busy day at work, rushed home to pick up Hannah, we loaded up into the car, drove to get Matt and on the way we had a moment that made me as happy as can be. CBC radio played The Gambler by Kenny Rogers, we had the windows and sunroof wide open, music playing loud - me singing along and Hannah seat dancing, clapping, laughing and smiling. We pulled up beside some cyclists on the bike route and they sang along and clapped too. It was a happy little moment in a busy day that made everything right with the world.

On the show The Office, the episode where Pam and Jim get married, they take mental pictures of their favourite moments of the day so they won't forget. I took a few mental pictures of Hannah this afternoon.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

sweet summer weekend.

Oh summer, you were so late to arrive and so quickly you're leaving. I've had a perfect summer's weekend. Stayed at my parent's house for a sleepover, played under the trees, ate fresh berries, swam at Crescent Beach, had lots of family visits, came back to the city for a lovely bbq and red wine at Regional Assembly of Text's sixth anniversary, had park time and ordered delicious Chinese for dinner. Feeling so settled with my little family and warm summer nights.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

summer produce

My really busy time at work is winding down, I have my regular days off this week and life is returning to normal. Yesterday on my way home I stopped off at the great produce store near my office and picked up corn, green onions, champagne grapes, tomatoes, fingerling potatoes, yellow beans, basil, cauliflower, peaches, blueberries and kale. I then met friends at the Vancouver Farmer's Market at Main and Terminal and picked up radishes, some more of that tasty Dohm cheese and one of the best baguettes I've had in years from purebread

I'm a bread snob, but I'm allowed to be. I was the assistant head baker for years in an amazing artisan breads bakery in Crescent Beach (that's where Matt and I met, he worked retail and I baked). While working there, the owner, a dear friend and I went on a research trip to Europe for a few weeks. We worked at a bakery in Germany, toured Poilane in Paris, we tried all the best breads we could find, we kept a journal on what we discovered, asked bakers how long they steamed their baguettes, their starter percentages and their tricks. It was an amazing trip and ever since I have no patience for bad bread. Making bread is a wonderful combination of science, intuition and ingredients. One day I'd like to get back to bread baking, I loved the early mornings, the smell of the sourdough starter, the rhythmic sound of the mixer as it incorporated the flour. 

I'm going to enjoy summer this weekend, before it slips away. Bowls of blueberries and sliced peaches, sandy beaches and sunhats. How did it get to be the end of August already?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

really tasty muffins!

We didn't plant zucchini at our garden, I wish we had - I forgot how much I love zucchini. Luckily our garden neighbours are really generous and have given me giant zukes every time I go. Also lucky how much Hannah loves zucchini muffins given the 2 cups of grated veggies in them! These are really moist and flavourful, even three days later. Make sure you really drain all the liquid out of the zucchini or they can be gummy.

Zucchini and Carrot Muffins
Adapted from a recipe on group recipes.

1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup applesauce
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup grated zucchini, all water pressed out
1 cup spelt flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup dried cranberries or chopped dates or a combo of both

Preheat oven to 400°. In a large bowl, whisk together butter and sugar. Beat in egg and applesauce. Stir in carrots and zucchini.
In another large bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Fold dry ingredients into wet, until just mixed add the cranberries/dates. Spoon batter to the very top of sprayed, paper-lined muffin cups and bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in a muffin.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

preserved lemons

I've wanted to make preserved lemons for ages, but always forget. There are so many recipes I want to try with them - I've now taken the first step.

Preserved Lemons
adapted from about 4 recipes I've collected over the years
8-10 organic lemons, scrubbed well
1/2 cup kosher salt - might need more
juice from about 2-3 extra lemons
sterilized jar

Put 2 tbsp of salt in the bottom of your jar.
Cut off the stem and any pokey out piece on your lemons. Cut the lemons in half lengthwise without cutting through the base, quarter the lemon while keeping it intact.
Rub about a tbsp on each lemon, inside and outside and place in jar. Do this with as many lemons as you can cram into the jar. A few of my lemons ended up cut right in half and it filled the jar well that way. Once the jar is full, add extra lemon juice to cover all the lemons. Put 2 tbsp of salt on the top and seal the jar.
Turn the jar upside down once a day and after 2 days put the jar in the fridge, turning occasionally. After 3 weeks the rinds will have softened (or so I've read!).
To use, remove a lemon from the jar and rinse well to remove salt. Throw out the pulp and seeds and use the rind as called for in a recipe.
I'll update you on the process as it goes along and will come up with recipes when the rinds are ready! The lemons keep anywhere from six months to a year.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Marinated Roast Chicken

We've had this twice this week, I cook it the night before and then we have it for dinner and leftover for salads and Hannah's lunch, she loves it!

Marinated Roast Chicken
3-4 bone-in, skin on chicken breasts
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or basil or a combination of both
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp white wine vinegar or rice wine vinegar
juice and zest of 2 lemons
1 tbsp ground sumac (optional)
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
generous pinch of salt
lots of freshly ground pepper

Rinse chicken and pat dry, place in a baking dish. Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Lift the skin on the chicken and work some of the marinade under the skin and coat the rest of the chicken with the remaining marinade. Let marinate for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 425°, put baking dish in the oven and cook for approximately 30 minutes or until meat thermometer reads 160°. The sauce that this makes is SO tasty!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

lotus root salad

Matt took Hannah out to visit his parents at the beach today and I had, for the first time since Hannah was born, a day off to myself. I read in bed until noon and then headed out for a big walk to Chinatown, walked through Gastown and up to Robson and home. I'm tired! On the way I stopped and picked up some lotus root for a salad I haven't made in years but remembered last night when we had lotus root gyoza at Hapa Izakaya. I first made this when I was about fourteen and many many times after that.

Lotus Root Salad
1 lb fresh lotus root works out to about 2-3 medium pieces of lotus root
1" of ginger, peeled and grated
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
3 tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Rinse lotus roots with cold water. Trim off both ends of the root. Peel the skin off the root with a veggie peeler.  Slice into 1/8" slices and immediately put into acidulated water (water with the juice of a lemon). Drain the lotus and put it into a large bowl. Pour boiling water to cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Rinse with cold water a few times. Drain well and put back into the bowl.
For the dressing, in a small bowl whisk ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and sesame oil. Pour over lotus, mix gently to cover all the lotus, toss in cilantro. Extra tasty if it can chill in the fridge for half an hour and its even better on day two!

Friday, August 19, 2011

a classic.

Tomato, Fresh Mozzarella and Basil Salad
The key to this very simple salad is fresh quality ingredients

2 cups summer fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 loosely packed cup of torn summer fresh basil leaves
1 cup fresh mozzarella, torn into chunks and shredded pieces
2 tbsp good olive oil
a generous pinch of malden salt or fleur de sel 
freshly ground pepper

Combine everything in a large bowl, gently tossing to coat. Let sit for at least ten minutes and up to an hour before serving. The longer it sits the more juice comes out of the tomatoes and the better it will be with a nice crusty piece of bread to mop up the tasty juices!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

farmer's market

I ended up with the afternoon off work and Hannah and I walked down to Main and Terminal for the Wednesday Farmer's Market. We picked up some fresh arugula, sugar snap peas, green beans, plums and this delicious cheese in a jar called Dohm. Hannah and I walked around Chinatown afterwards, met up with my best friend and walked to the park to meet Matt at our garden plot. A lovely summer afternoon spent with my sweet little girl after some stressy work days was much needed. We had a tasty fresh salad of arugula, fresh peas, red pepper and some beets from my own garden with a yogurt dill dressing for dinner with a green olive fougasse from Terra Breads and the Dohm cheese. I love August.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I bought the most amazing cookbook last night, Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi is one of the most amazing vegetarian cookbooks I've ever seen. The recipes are inspired, amazing combinations and endlessly fantastic and the photos are delicious. This will be on my bedside table for weeks to come. A few highlights are Stuffed Portobello with melting Taleggio, Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce, Carmalized Fennel with Goat Cheese, Mushroom and Herb Polenta . . . must go read in bed!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

miso salmon

I love salmon season, big fillets of wild sockeye salmon at Choice's Market for $9 - summer time love! Everybody Loves Sandwiches posted a recipe this week for miso chicken that looked delicious and I wanted to do something along the same lines with salmon. Here's what I came up with, our bbq isn't working so I threw ours under the broiler.

Miso Ginger Salmon and Soba Noodle Salad
Serves 4
Marinade and Salad Dressing
1/4 cup white miso
2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
3 green onions finely chopped
2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 tsp sesame oil
1 large fillet of fresh wild salmon
salt and pepper

Whisk miso, mirin, vinegar, soy, green onions, ginger, and sesame oil in a small bowl. Put half of the sauce aside.
Put the salmon onto an aluminum foil covered sheet tray and pour half the marinade over the salmon, marinate for about 15 minutes to half an hour in the fridge.

Turn broiler to high and move a rack right under the element. Drain extra marinade off and broil for 8-10 minutes or until desired doneness.

Miso Ginger Soba Noodle Salad
340 g package of soba noodles, cooked according to package directions
1 red pepper finely chopped
large handful of fresh peas
2 cups chopped broccoli, lightly steamed
3 green onions finely chopped
3 tbsp sesame seeds
juice of a lime
remaining marinade/dressing

In a large bowl mix  noodles, red pepper, peas, broccoli, green onions, sesame seeds, lime juice and remaining marinade. Would be tasty with some cilantro too!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

garden bounty on a sunny day.

After a long week I needed a down day. We had a lazy morning and headed over to my community garden plot in the early afternoon. Picked beets, kale, sweetpeas and our garden neighbour gave me a giant zucchini.
Stopped by La Taqueria for decent but definitely not memorable tacos. Came home for naptime and then up Main Street for veggies and over to Marche St. George for an early dinner of delicious flatbread and great company.

Hannah loves zucchini muffins and after some trial and error this is the recipe that I've concocted that is the tastiest and very healthy.

Spiced Zucchini Spelt Muffins
2 cups  spelt flour
2 cups shredded, unpeeled zucchini - drain it well in a teatowel twisted tight to push all the liquid out of it. Skipped this step once this week and the muffins were awful!
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder 
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp each ground nutmeg 
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
3/4 cup milk or a combo of milk and plain yogurt
1/4 cup virgin coconut oil or vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350°.
Lightly coat a nonstick muffin tin with vegetable oil. Lightly mix spelt with zucchini, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt.

Whisk egg with buttermilk and oil. Combine with dry ingredients until just moistened.
Spoon batter into muffin pan and bake for 30 minutes or until tops are golden and firm to the touch. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

long days and green beans and paneer.

I'm in the midst of busy full-time work - I'm a sales rep for a big surf clothing company and I'm showing Spring 12 all week. Appointments at nine, noon and three with at least 3 accounts at a time. It would run smoothly if people were on time, but most accounts run late to very late - I ended up doing three extra presentations today and I am bagged! While work is this hectic, I'm staying at my parent's house and they are looking after my little Hannah. We're so lucky that Hannah is with my parents, when I come home from work she's happy as can be, well fed and well rested - it's lovely.

Last night I noticed a recipe on the side of the fridge that my mom had clipped and I picked up the ingredients on my way home. It was so delicious that I didn't even have a chance to take a photo before we ate it!

Green Beans and Paneer in Fresh Tomato Sauce
This is a recipe from the Vancouver Sun by Bal Arneson, I've made a couple of changes

1tbsp grapeseed oil
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp mustard seeds (I used red)
1 tbsp garam masala
3 green onions, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 pound of green beans, trimmed
1/2 pound paneer cheese cubed and pan-fried
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and mustard seeds and cook for 15 seconds. Add the garam masala, salt and pepper and cook for five seconds.
Add the tomatoes, green onions, green beans and cook, stirring frequently, until the beans are tender, about 7-10 minutes. Add a few tbsp of water if the pan seems dry (mine did!). Add the paneer and cook for 2 minutes before serving. Serves 4.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Cape Dorset

I grew up with Cape Dorset art in my parent's home. They were given pieces in the early 70's and they have a beautiful collection. I've loved Inuit Art for as long as I can remember. Monet speaks to some people, Dorset art makes me happy, soothes my soul and I adore it. I've been gifted three original prints from my parent's, two for my thirtieth birthday, the third to complete my collection. I have a Lucy, a Pudlo and an Eleeshushe.
When we were on Galiano Island, the woman who owned the property we stayed on had an amazing Innukjuakjuk print of three Canadian Geese. She had a 1960 book of Dorset art that I had never seen (I collect the yearly books and have many from '62-'76) and I spent a sunny island afternoon going through the book, the best part was the back page with the photos of all the artists.

Cape Dorset has the longest history of traditional Inuit printmaking in Canada, and its carvings and prints are marketed worldwide through a highly evolved infrastructure. Established in the late 1950s, the West Baffin Eskimo Co-Operative was the first Inuit owned co-operative operated by its members. For over fifty years, the co-op has provided an outlet for artists to create and market their art.

Print Making is renowned in Cape Dorset. At the West Baffin Eskimo Co-op, in the Kinngait Studios, a series of prints is produced each year. The stonecut print is unique to Canada's North, and has been the chosen medium of the Kinngait Studios for 50 years. The slate surface is carefully inked and the delicate paper placed on top.
The ink is pressed into the paper by hand, and the finished product gently lifted off the template.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

birthday weekend!

It's my birthday today and I've had a fantastic weekend. We went to our niece's fourth birthday at Second Beach in Stanley Park yesterday, Hannah was very neutral about her cupcake.

In the late afternoon we had a chill potluck gathering at the park for my birthday, we brought balloons and gazpacho. Drank wine in the park til the sun went down and then back to our place for crokinole.

This morning I was up bright and early to head to my office for an 8:30 appointment (8:30!! on a Sunday!! on my Birthday!!), the account that came to see me is one of my favourites and they brought me fresh Okanagan peaches so it was a good start to my day. 

We headed out to my parent's today and stopped for a birthday lunch at Pronto on Cambie. Holy smokes this place was fantastic. We shared two sandwiches and a green salad and it was up there with one of the best sandwiches I've ever had.

A relaxed dinner at my parent's with my niece and the day is wrapping up.

I haven't experienced (much of) the birthday anxiety I seem to get hit with every year. None of the stress of organizing something, none of the pressure I put on myself to make it something memorable. A lovely chill weekend with my near and dear, I'm a year older and quite okay with it.

Image from PoeticHome

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Green and Yellows

I'm so busy at work these days that by the time I even start to think about lunch its 4 pm and I'm getting ready to head home. I stopped at the Farm Market on my way home and got a bounty of local fruits and veggies.
We had a tasty veggie dinner tonight with two of my favourite and most easy recipes ever.

Garlic, Basil and Sea Salt Green Beans
This recipe is from a girl I worked with years ago, it's above and beyond my most favourite way to eat beans. Thanks Lorin! We have this at least three nights a week in the summer!
4 cups green beans, cleaned and rinsed
1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
fleur de sel

Bring a pot of lightly salted water to the boil, add beans and cook for 2-4 minutes until al dente. Drain and in a large bowl toss with basil, garlic, olive oil and salt.
Eat - eat it all!!

Corn with Lime and Cojita Cheese
4 cobs of corn, cleaned and removed of husks
1/2 cup of grated cojita or romano cheese
1 lime
olive oil
salt and pepper

You can either grill the corn until golden on a bbq or boil for 5 minutes. Once your corn is cooked, drizzle with a little olive oil, squeeze lime over the corn and then sprinkle with cheese and salt and pepper. So tasty!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

imaginary shopping trip - kaye blegvad

It's been awhile since I've been on an imaginary shopping trip. I came across Kaye Blegvad on decor8 today and I'm in love with her paper banners.

what the long weekend was.

We had great plans to go away with friends to the Sunshine Coast for the long weekend, we'd been looking forward to it for a couple months but Hannah got sick on Thursday night and we had to cancel. Instead we spent our first weekend at home in Vancouver in a month catching up on our lives. We cleaned up, got things in order and had a productive weekend at home. We ventured out a couple of times, a picnic in the park, a walk up to Queen Elizabeth Park to see the ducks and an evening trip to the Summer Night Market in Richmond.

The Night Market is one of my favourite summer events in Vancouver (Richmond). It runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights until September. Go early, go hungry and have patience for the crowds. 

Between the four of us we had grilled spicy squid, takoyaki, vietnamese spring rolls, taiwanese rice rolls (my favourite), crispy tofu, beef rolled enoki, mushroom poutine, strawberry lemonade and a few other things I can't remember. It's great because the food is cheap and portions are small and shareable so you can try many different things.

It's Tuesday morning now and Hannah is still sick and of course being the sweet generous girl she is, shared her germy germs with me. It was the right decision not to go away as Hannah has been coughing through the night and been beside herself at bedtime - we would not have been good housemates. It was hard to miss a sunny long weekend on the Sunshine Coast, but we made do at home.

Thanks for the photos of the Night Market ├ůsa!